counselling, journalling, self awareness, spirituality

Counselling, Validation + Childhood Fantasy

I don’t really know what to write about today specifically, so I suppose I’ll just write about how I feel and what’s on my mind. After last week’s outburst post, I knew that my next counselling session would feel different. I told him today that it felt like a month since our last session. He looked at me a bit quizzically and asked why, so I told him about the conflicting feelings I’ve been having about counselling lately; some of which I wrote about in my journal a few days ago:

I feel like he was being quite antagonising yesterday – challenging me a lot. And not really in ways that landed for me. It didn’t always resonate. I feel like I’m not really allowed to disagree with his perspective without it being indicative of a flaw or shortsightedness in me. Sometimes I feel like the work is me being made to adhere to his point of view. I fear I’ve become distrusting of my own capacity for wisdom and understanding. I am scared to say this.
At the Zen Buddhist night tonight, we talked about consumption and craving and how conversations are a form of consumption. It made me think about my internal conversations and how they can be seen as a response to a form of craving – craving for validation, for example. And then I thought about how obsessively I tend to plan or fantasise about conversations in counselling – either in preparation or in retrospect. And it seemed mindless to me, how all of this obsessive thinking was simply another way of satisfying a craving. A bottomless craving. And how much of that bleeds into the sessions themselves? How much time do I squander trying to evoke the right response or come across in the right way?

I had the courage to read this out today, which I’m proud of myself for. I risked my cozy little container of validation and synchronised connection with him to be honest and authentic. I risked offending him, isolating myself and breaking our connection. Of course, none of this happened – I hope – but in my mind, they could have. He told me that he could sense the nervous energy at the beginning of the session – that he, in turn, felt nervous and with shortness of breath. It really moved me to learn how attuned he was to our dynamic and the feeling states within our relationship.

With the idea of seeking validation in mind, I felt quieter today; feeling compulsions to speak about things then realising it was only a bid for validation, so staying silent instead. I felt more measured, maybe more anxious, and because I was trying my best to speak from a place of authenticity and meaningfulness – I felt more grounded and in touch with my feeling body as a result. He assured me that it was all part of the process and that it was “wonderful work”. Whether we end on a “happy note” or not, he has been saying this a lot lately, which I find genuinely reassuring.

After today’s session, I felt a little sombre, quite calm and very grounded. I felt my connection with the earth and my connection with my feelings. The slowing down of my speech and the intention to be less caught in the cerebral and vicious cycles of my ego brought this softness to me. As I told him at the end when he asked how I was feeling, I felt softer and less ‘jaggedy’. That’s how it felt to honour my experience.

In case anybody wants some advice on how to bring more awareness to internal conversations and fantasising, one of the leaders on my Buddhist retreat recited a poem at one point (I’m not sure which poem, unfortunately) which explored fixation on the past and future. It mentioned how the past “doesn’t exist, it’s already happened” and how the future “doesn’t exist, it hasn’t happened yet”. So these are things I say to myself from time to time, along with: “Let go, let it go”. On the way to my session today, actually, I was imagining a conversation with my counsellor and I caught myself and said: “Let it go, it hasn’t happened yet. And it probably never will happen”. There was a sense of deflation that went with this realisation – but also a sense of groundedness. A redirection of my energy from cerebral to rooted in reality.

I watched a video last night about the idea of childhood fantasy and how this mentality or coping mechanism can extend into adulthood. It’s characterised by maladaptive daydreaming, placing emphasis on the idea of a saviour, feelings of powerlessness, and bids for validation and quick fixes. This as a concept truly resonated with me and reminded me of how much I used to daydream as a kid. One of my biggest fantasies was performing, whether singing or dancing, for boys that I found attractive. I’m talking from the age of 4 or 5. It was ritualistic for me. Any time I was alone, that’s what I did. It feels funny having the courage to admit that now. The comments on this video about childhood fantasy are partly what made me be so reflective and honest with myself because so many people were echoing my experience with what they said.

Someone wrote that their fantasy was singing for people and getting their validation. It was a lightbulb moment for me: Ah! That’s what I do – and have done my whole life. In addition to people getting frank about compulsive daydreaming in the comment section, multiple people were also talking about Enneagram personality types – a lot of people were type 4. Naturally, I took the test myself and yep – type 4!

Fours are somewhat melancholic by disposition, and under stress tend to lapse into depression. They also tend to be self-absorbed, even under the best of circumstances, but when unbalanced, easily give way to a self-indulgence which they perceive as being fully justified as a way to compensate for the general lack of pleasure they experience in their lives. Rather than look for practical solutions to their difficulties, Fours are prone to fantasising about a saviour who will rescue them from their unhappiness. –

Phew. The accuracy. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being self-absorbed. I guess awareness of it is the first step to exalting it into a more constructive quality or outcome? I’ve been finding it difficult to maintain and nurture the close relationships in my life because I feel like I exert a lot of energy trying to maintain my own mental stability.

Awareness is a seed, in my opinion. A seed which, like an intention, has the ability to blossom into full realisation and actualisation. Ways in which we can “wake up” from the childhood fantasy and start living more intentionally are: start asking “why” we do the things we do, which I feel like I have started to do a lot more lately, and meditating, which I’ve also been doing most days. It’s important for me to look towards other sources of self-development and therapeutic support that aren’t from an actual counsellor because soon I’m going to be ending a therapeutic relationship.

In a way, continuing to do things like research different psychological concepts and healing modalities feels like home to me. It’s what I’ve done for years. I know that I have the agency to continue to heal myself without the direct help of a counsellor and that out of the difficulty of this ending will come some kind of jewel or gold. I wonder what it will be.

Thanks for reading.

– SMUT. ❤ xxxx

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